October 28, 2011

Making Digital Simple

I was chatting with a colleague this week and we talked about how often technical glitches happen when we're using gadgets that are supposed to improve business and communication. Bad phone lines, email problems, servers down, weak cell patches, lost files, the list goes on.

We know that a web presence is important. Online, social and mobile purchasing continues to increase so it's imperative that companies have a digital interface for their customers. And there is ample data to prove connecting with a vibrant and active customer base helps drive better service and increase revenue.

However, it’s crucial not to let technology hamper your customers' ability to interact with you

Kneale Mann

visual credit: youtube | google

October 26, 2011

Performance Reviewed Daily

There's an annual event that everyone seems to think is crucial yet few look forward to enduring and that is the annual performance review.

This delightful 30-60 minute meeting consists of a discussion of how one of the people in the room has performed their duties for the past twelve months.

Some companies engage in a form that is to be filled out by the employee prior to the meeting and then reviewed with their manager. The time spent on strengths is often paled by those items that require more attention or the weaknesses. And if you ask most people, they would agree they should work on getting better at what they don't do well.

Summarize and Generalize

Of course, few of us keep an open file to make notes during a major project or a significant event throughout the year. This form is often filled out shortly before the meeting. Then the results are neatly placed into the employee’s file to be viewed in another year.

If you own your company, you don't have the luxury of an annual performance review because that happens every day in the form of client feedback - or worse, no feedback - followed by lost revenue.

How do customers measure your performance? 

Do they wait a year, send you an appraisal form to fill out and mark yourself on various aspects of your product and customer service then sit with you to discuss? No, they often don’t even complain if they are unhappy with your offering. They just leave. Or worse, tell everyone about the experience through the social channels.

So have a look at your team, your business, your offering, your organization and decide whether you are waiting for the feedback or being proactive to ensure superior internal customer service within a social business model – which includes regular discussions about performance and strengths versus the annual review – and greater external customer service.

How's your performance review?

Kneale Mann

image credit: buzzle

October 22, 2011

The Power of Doodling

It’s as universal as breathing. It began in our childhood and remains a part of our lives today. It happens on planes, offices, dining rooms, boardrooms, hotel suites and bathrooms. It happens alone, with others, in private and in public.

The history of the doodle stems back to the dawn of our ancestors. It has been the genesis of some of our finest concepts, theories, inventions and solutions. It is the seemingly mindless act of drawing aimlessly while in a meeting, on the phone or any other place we humans hang out. And there is a powerful and sound business reason we need to continue to doodle.

Sunni Brown is a business owner, creative director, speaker and co-author of Game Storming. She’s best known for her large-scale live content visualizations, and she is also the leader of the Doodle Revolution. In her TEDTalk, Sunni explains why we must continue to doodle.

Grab some paper and a pen while you watch.

Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED

October 21, 2011

700 Posts in 42 Months

It happened at a dinner on April 23, 2008. After the 5th person asked me where they could find my blog, later that night I started a blog. Like millions before me, I had no clue what I’d write about and I didn't think anyone would read it. So I started writing and I'm still surprised people read it.

I thought I'd write every now and then which turned into 699 posts in three and a half years with more than 12,000 comments and readers in 147 countries. There have been fun times and not-so-fun times in my career during that time but this space has remained the one constant. Thank-you for ensuring my thoughts aren't just fired into the abyss. If you want to write, don't wait for permission, write and keep writing.

Connect and Collaborate

Through this and other social channels, I have met literally hundreds of people I would never had met otherwise in a ten lifetimes. Some have turned into business colleagues, friends and clients. And the focus of this space continues to be to share creative ideas for business, leadership, strategy, marketing, social media and life.

My passion is to help business owners and managers become better leaders, build better teams and grow their companies. So let's keep sharing ideas and don’t hesitate to email, say hi, send thoughts, book a call or grab a coffee.

Thanks For Dropping By!

Kneale Mann

image credit: wikipedia

October 17, 2011

Let’s Connect and Get to Work

From Cave Walls to Instant Messages

Since the dawn of human existence, we have been working to improve our lives. There are better tools, advanced medical procedures, cleaner water purification, improved supply lines, more advanced urban development and enhanced communication tools.

We live in a time where there are more scientists alive than in any other time in history, combined. There are reports that the world’s population will reach seven billion this week.

The Shrunken Globe

We can send complicated documents across the globe with the press of a thumb. Our ability to share ideas is now instantaneous though some are working on improving that. And we are attempting to digest more content every day than we can ever consume.

So it’s curious when we get stuck with how to reach new customers, find new collaborative partners and share ideas with those who will want to work with us. It has become an embarrassment of riches in a time when patience is scarce.

The Best Social Network

We seem to be able to grow our personal and professional networks on the social web yet the question remains how much human connection is going on. So it is my new mantra to connect on the phone or in person with ten new people every week. If you and I haven't done it yet, let's fix that.

It's time for us to utilize the true power of social media for what they are meant to do - socialize and collaborate for real. Let's stop counting "likes" and Klout scores and get some work done. It's an over used cliche but I believe in you win/I win - not you win/I lose or I win/you lose. This is not about either of us asking for what we're not prepared to reciprocate. Teamwork is required.

So contact me and let’s find a way to utilize all these cool tools to truly connect, compare notes, do some business and help each other. Does that sound like a plan?

Kneale Mann

image credit: youthspeak

October 15, 2011

Why We Do What We Do

We have all tried and failed. We have all found sufficient excuses not to get it done. We have all blamed seemingly endless reasons why it didn’t go our way.

Tony Robbins has been helping people for more than three decades. If you need that kick in the butt, watch this. If you’re one of the over 3 million who have seen it since 2005, watch it again.

Then what will you do?

Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED

October 13, 2011

Expanding the Enterprise Through Conformity

con·form Adapt, accommodate. Comply with rules, standards or laws. Behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards. Be similar in form or type.

in·di·vid·u·al Of or relating to an individual, especially a single human. By or for one person. Existing as a distinct entity.

If you have ever been to a concert, you've noticed them. If you attend major sporting events, it’s evident. You have seen many of them. In school we called them cliques. Each member attempts to be different while acting the same.

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers. Mignon McLaughlin

They have a deeper understanding of each other, an almost unspoken confidence. To the untrained eye, they may all have had a sip of the Kool-Aid but they will tell you they think freely on their own.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority,
it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain

Their iPad was a sound choice made void of any peer influence which is evident in their lack of need to tell everyone on the planet about their purchase. The navy suit with crisp white shirt and steel blue tie was simply a gut call. The tattoo and pocket shorts had nothing to do with establishing an accepted image by others.

When you don't control your mind, someone else will.
John Alliston

I had a conversation recently with a great friend who said, “that doesn’t fit the culture here” and my lunch almost made a return visit. Culture is not a sentence in the annual report. Be like him and her and you'll do just fine. Step out and we may have a problem.

Do you ever push conformity aside to share a great idea?

Kneale Mann

image credit: oracle | original post: Dec 2010

October 12, 2011

Are You Open for Business?

Have you ever been behind a truck that has a company logo and contact information on the back and the driver isn’t operating the vehicle in a respectful manner? A few years ago, I was behind one that said “How do you like my driving?” The driver was weaving through traffic, cutting people off. He must have been late or just inconsiderate.

After several blocks we ended up at the same stop light so all his weaving and bobbing garnered him a couple of car lengths. So I called the number on the back of the truck and spoke with someone from his office. The person on the line sounded put off and frankly shocked that someone actually called their bluff to tell them about their driver’s actions. She got me off the phone as soon as possible.

Two Chances at a First Impression

That’s two lost business opportunities in five minutes. The driver was driving like a dufus and the person on the phone didn’t care. How sad. All their well-craft marketing and public relations efforts disintegrated in that moment.

We’ve all endured the 20 minute “we are experiencing an unusually high volume of calls but you are important to us” situations. In fact, when we do get to the customer service person in less than a few minutes we are shocked. The world has taught us to quietly wait our turn and that’s how it’s going to be so too bad.

Who Wants Some?

I asked a group of business owners and manages recently if they enjoyed great customer service and no surprise, they all said yes. Who wouldn't? Then I asked if they had received great customer service 100% of the time for their entire lives and well, you know their response. So clearly some of them are providing bad customer service or I failed elementary math. It's pretty simple, you want good give good, you give bad don't be surprised when you get bad.

We spend an immense mount of energy and resources telling customers that we are open to their needs and yet we fall down several times on our way to the sale. So if you say your business is open to providing great service and it's something you personally enjoy from other providers, it should be easy to incorporate the two into your offering.

Or perhaps they won't notice your driving.

Kneale Mann

image credit: teacherontheradio

October 9, 2011

Two Boats

The news reports are telling residents to leave town. The authorities are feverishly going around the city to gather up those who don’t have the means to do it themselves and all the while Bill has decided he is going to stay in his home and wait out the storm.

Below the Waterline

A few hours later the rain is coming down in sheets. Bill is forced out of his home and onto his roof where the water is now five feet deep on his street. Two police officers in a motorboat come by to rescue Bill and bring him to safety. Bill declines their offer and proclaims; “God will send me a sign!”

Several hours later, the water is now at Bill’s waist as he struggles to survive on his now submerged roof. Another police boat comes to rescue him and take him to safety. He again says “No thank-you, God will send me a sign”. A half hour later, Bill drowns.

Searching for Answers

In front of God, Bill is shocked and says; “Why didn’t you send me a sign?” and God replies; “I sent you two boats!”

How often do we ignore what may not appear on the surface to be the help we need in our quest for the clear path? How do we miss those signs that are there to guide us when we’re looking for guidance? How often are we quick to help others but not as swift to accept help from them in return?

Have you seen the boats?

Kneale Mann

image credit: sutherlandpartnership

October 7, 2011

Developing Your Offline Business

Nice to Tweet You

If you work hard, remain open to all possibilities and build a connection, it is astonishing how many people will help you. Each connection is a person, not just another number to add to our LinkedIn profile.

The digital universe can connect us with people who can help us, work with us, hire us, befriend us and collaborate with us. In the last five years, I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of people and not all through quick clicks and shares. It takes time but it's well worth spending if you take the connection to the next step and get to know the people you bump into in cyberspace.

Digital Will Only Help So Far

You may say it's the power of social media but that is just the starting point. We bump into hundreds, perhaps thousands of people every day and make no connection. It is when we set up a call or meeting and get to know each other outside of the busy online world and connect as people that the power begins to be realized.

The in-person meeting or phone call will never be diminished and should never been removed from your business plan. It is the single tactic that can crush you or help you.
I can't speak for you, but I know I need to pick up the phone more often!

Often companies don’t put forth the effort because they don't want to put forth the effort. They can point to other reasons but perhaps they don't care to hear what customers are saying about them. The world is shrinking yet the basics have never been more critical – reading, writing, partnerships, service and being human.

Drop the tweet and pick up a phone

Kneale Mann

image credit: rachelcreative
original post Apr 2011

October 5, 2011

The Power of the Human Network

Our People are Important to Us

I am what some might call a realistic optimist. I go into each situation with hope but know that the world is not made of lollipops and rainbows. I want everyone to get along and treat each other with respect. That is not always the case, not everyone operates from a place of integrity. We need to be strong. We need to move business along. But we can do it with compassion. This goes beyond customer service.

The social web is a wonderful place to meet people who think like you and share your values and passions. They can live next door or across the world but the connection is there on a level you can't easily explain. There are human beings behind each blog post and tweet. They have hopes and fears, stress and victories. And we can connect with them if we give the process its due care.

What Do You Do?

Since I am not a painter or a plumber, the answer is not always clean and tidy. I help businesses do business better. My offering is not as a social media guy or a marketing guy. My first step is to decipher how I can help improve what you are doing. We can get into social channels and websites and marketing plans and strategy after that is established. Without our desire to get there, we will never know when we arrive.

With channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or Empire Avenue, we have the opportunity to lead blended lives. If we connect with authenticity, work and develop friendships at the intersection of collaboration and then pick up a phone once in a while to connect on my favorite social network - person to person.

Admiring Trailblazers

We marvel at those who appear fearless in their pursuits. We look for inspiration from individuals who seem to know exactly what they want to be doing. Yet we call them self-made and if you believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers theory (which I do), none of us is self-made. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes true human collaboration to clear a path to our passion.

Thank you for dropping by here. And thanks to those who have invested their time in helping me get better. Look at the people in your life offering to help and thank them. Then extend your hand to help others. Collaboration is not a word to put on a t-shirt.

Are You Ready to Inspire?

Kneale Mann

image credit: onebrowncow
original posted May 2011

October 3, 2011

Data Are Worthless

If you own a company, manage a business, run a department or contribute to a team, you are intimately aware of the time constraints you face every day. You have deadlines and meetings, emails and projects as well as constant reminders of the bottom line. And what should you do about all this online stuff?

There are close to two billion of us online reading, digesting, publishing, sharing, tweeting and conversing. The amount of content published in a day is unrelenting and new spaces are being built constantly.

Our Insatiable Appetite

The choices can overwhelm you, the so-called experts can hound you and the decision remains how to improve the organization. And unless your company is called “campaign”, you need a strategy and long term solutions.

It’s not difficult to find someone who will lay claim to their vast knowledge of all things digital through blog webinars, Facebook symposiums and how-to LinkedIn seminars. Yet with a click of your mouse, you will be falling over self-proclaimed experts who can give you link bait and search juice for a handsome fee.

Under The Hood

Perhaps the not so sexy but valuable aspect of the social web that few talk about is research. Over and above any activity you partake through the myriad digital spaces, you can unearth rich useful information about your company, what people are saying about you, topics that are important to you and what your competitors are doing through regular digital audits.

With over 600 million daily search inquires on Twitter, someone seems to be digging around for information. And over a third of us online have presence on Facebook where we share more than 30 billion pieces of content every month.

And There's More

YouTube is the second largest search engine, next to parent company Google and fifth most visited website on the planet. It served more than 75 billion video streams to over 375 million unique visitors last year. And if you're looking for even more research, you can check out SlideShare which features hundreds of presentations in your industry. And there are hundreds of other spaces available.

The data are only worth something if you do something with it. The information needs to be gathered, analyzed and implemented. And constant research on the web can positively effect the bottom line. The decision is whether you want to do the work and put in the time.

Kneale Mann

image credit: cloudcentrics
original posted Feb 2011
© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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